House on Hold

House on Hold

A house on the Potomac River which was being built in violation of its development plan will have to sit in limbo until the homeowners can resolve a number of problems.

The Fairfax County Planning Commission indefinitely deferred its decision about the house at its June 21 meeting.

"This application is falling apart," said Commissioner John Byers (Mount Vernon).

The plans for the house, being built by Scott and Phyllis Crabtree, allowed importing 11 cubic yards of dirt to help level the site. They have used 241.5 cubic yards, according to the Department of Planning and Zoning staff report.

The house as built, a few feet from the river, also had more impervious surface and disturbed land than the permits would allow, according to the staff report.

Impervious surface increases the amount of stormwater which runs into the river, and can have a negative impact on the water quality.

As a result of these issues, the department ordered a stop to all work on the house. The department asked that the Crabtrees plant more trees on the property than they had originally planned to in order to makeup for the additional dirt and impervious surface.

During a May 18 hearing before the Planning Commission, Lynne Strobel, attorney for the Crabtrees, said that the homeowners thought that they were proceeding according to the plan. She argued that the amount of impervious surface was not dramatically different from what was show on the plan, but that there was simply a misunderstanding.

Since the hearing, inspectors have uncovered other issues. County law allows houses to be 35 feet tall. However, the height is not measured from the top of the roof, but taken as an average of the roof heights. This house has an unusual roof architecture, which makes it complex to determine the height of the roof.

"[We are] really trying to understand how it is made," said Regina Coyle of the Department of Planning and Zoning.

The National Park Service also submitted a letter to the commission raising issues about access to public utilities. The park service said they had not granted the necessary easements to the Crabtrees to allow them to access water and sewer lines. The county has asked them to verify that they have the necessary permits, Coyle said.

Strobel said her client was continuing to work with both Fairfax County and the community.